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Dining across the divide: ‘White British people have been conditioned into thinking we are superior’ | Life and style



Liz, 42, Manchester

Head shot of dining across the divider Liz

Occupation Mental health nurse

Voting record Mainly Labour at general elections, occasionally Green during the New Labour years

Amuse bouche She won flights from Manchester to Kuala Lumpur and visited Malaysia in the Sars epidemic


Terence, 74, Bury, Greater Manchester

Terence

Occupation Retired, previously a builder and entrepreneur

Voting record Labour until he was 28 – has voted Conservative since

Amuse bouche Used to own a bar on the Algarve in Portugal


For starters

Terence I envisaged we were going to be talking a lot, and I don’t like eating food quickly. I had roasted beetroot because I thought: “I can eat that and won’t still be here at midnight.”

Liz I had the ox cheeks with parsnip crisps, stilton dumplings and mashed potatoes, then chocolate truffle with honeycomb and toffee sauce.

Terence She told me she was in the NHS. We probably had similar views on that, from a different angle.

Liz He wants to preserve it as well – that was a big one. If we’d disagreed, that’s all we’d have talked about.

Liz and Terence

The big beef

Terence I openly said: “I don’t agree with these migrants who are coming across the Channel from France.” To me, in the main, the people doing this are fit gentlemen of a youngish age, who should be back home helping to defend wherever they come from, or helping to make it better.

Liz He was all: “You make your own luck in this world” and I said,“What about these people in dinghies? They’re taking a risk. They’re making their own luck.” But he couldn’t see it.

Terence She said they come here for a better life. But there are avenues that you can go down for asylum if you’re getting persecuted. Where did they get the money to pay thousand of pounds to get across here?

Liz I probably started off the conversation with the caveat that, as white British people, we are all racist. We’ve been conditioned into thinking that we are superior – we’ve been thinking that way for hundreds of years. He’s of the mindset that if people are genuinely fleeing conflict, they should be welcomed in.

Liz and Terence

Sharing plate

Terence From Liz’s point of view, and probably from mine, the NHS has been underfunded for about 10 years. But it’s been underfunded for the past 20 years, by successive governments, not just Conservatives. It was Tony Blair who introduced privatisation as well.

Liz We talked about a two-tier private system – if the private sector cherrypicks the routine operations, the NHS is left with the difficult stuff. So we agreed on that.

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Terence It’s like a perennial football – if the government changes, the NHS changes. It needs cross-party consensus so that you can get a proper plan to go forward.

Liz We both wanted more money for frontline staff. I agreed it should be less political. There’d be less need for management. Because the systems change so often, and it’s all about making things as cheap as possible, there’s a lot of unnecessary expense.

Liz and Terence

For afters

Liz I brought up the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, and how peaceful protest is being outlawed. I don’t think he was aware of the legislation. I said,“It’s about peaceful protest. And if you ban peaceful protest, what are people going to start doing to get their point across?”

Terence Protesters stopping normal people going about their business, going to work to support their family, because people are playing silly buggers, that is out of order.

Liz It wasn’t helpful that the Insulate Britain movement emerged just as the bill was going through. The timing of it, and the persistent targeting of the same areas, causing people to become so much more angry: that seems to me like the kind of tactic that would turn people against peaceful protest.

Terence To glue yourself on to slip roads of motorways – forget anything else, it’s against the law.

Liz and Terence

Takeaways

Liz He wasn’t that interested in getting to know me as a person, and figuring out what might have informed my allegiance in politics. He thinks everybody should be self-employed.

Terence It was quite amicable. People have their own views about others who are suffering, who are not earning enough money, etc. I’ve been self-employed for 45 years – you get a different perspective.

Liz and Terence

Additional reporting: Naomi Larsson

Liz and Terence ate at TNQ in Manchester

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